It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23.44-46)
The time has come for us to fix our eyes on our Lord and witness to his death. Of those who stand with us at the foot of the cross some are stoic, some weep and some are afraid. We know that fear – we are living through an unprecedented time of change and anxiety. We worry about the coronavirus disease and the impact this is having on our health service, and for those in need of other medical treatment. There are real concerns about how this will impact our futures; what businesses will suffer, what jobs will be lost; and what will life look like for our children when we come out the other side?
But the very last words of Jesus are not those of fear. They are of complete trust, a moment of coming home, of reunion. Again these are words from the childhood hymnbook of Jesus, from Psalm 31. It has become the prayer of so many people since they were uttered on the cross; of the martyrs, men and women tortured and killed for their beliefs, of the sick and dying, of someone mourning a loved one, and all those baffled and confused by their suffering in whatever form it takes. It is a prayer of trust – of giving up all pretence of control and of a total reliance on God. It is a prayer that in weakness gives strength to so many.
Let us spend a few moments in silence as we reflect on what we each fear the most – is it public humiliation, loneliness, a painful death or the death of a loved one?
Is it fearing to follow Jesus fully because we think we will fail him or because we are scared of what might be asked of us?
Then, as we stand at the foot of the cross, let us offer up our response: Lord, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Artwork: ‘Christ of Saint John of the Cross; by Salvador Dali